The old adage, "it is not how you start but how you finish" could not have been more evident than in the Americans 4-3 victory over Brampton last night before 3999 fans at the Allen Event Center (AEC). The welcome back Scott Howes enthusiasm was short lived as Scott got an assist on his first shift back at the AEC as Brampton scored 14 seconds into the game. The game ended with a six on three extra attacker Brampton power play after the referee, who had not called a holding or tripping penalty all game and had seemed to set the standard of let the guys play, decided to call Allen for a trip and a hold in the last couple of minutes of the game. A valiant effort by the penalty kill unit and goalie Bryan Pitton at the end of the game saved the day. In between the beginning and the end was some fine play by the Americans including goals by Bootland, Lavoie, and Kerbashian (2).
MARTINSON POST GAME COMMENTS:
- Even though the score was close there were a lot more positives than negatives in the game tonight. We had a lot of good chances against a goalie who is second in the league with a .935 save percentage.
- It was frustrating getting scored on the first shift of the game. We have a turn over and then get beat one on one to give them a 1-0 leads 14 seconds into the game. We really out played them the rest of the period and got the equalizer on the Bootland goal.
- I didn't like everything in the game tonight. We still have a problem with having players too concerned with scoring after we get ahead by two goals rather than preventing the other team from scoring.
- There were some calls tonight by the referee that I didn't understand and I will hopefully have a chance tomorrow to talk to Jim Wiley (CHL Director of Hockey Operations who was at the game) about my concerns. It is always easier to have that conversation when you win the game.
- Kale Kerbashian played well tonight. We had a conversation this morning about how important it is for him to move his feet. He is so strong when he moves his feet he is hard to play against.
- When asked by a fan why Scott Howes wasn't playing in Allen, Martinson had this to say. I really like Scott Howes on and off the ice and would love to have him play with us but as I have said to him he is a fools bet when signing him. He is one of the highest paid players in the league and he should be as he is the best player in the CHL. But when you sign him one of two things happens. He gets hurt, which has happened three or four times in the last year, and can't play or he stays healthy and with his talent he is called up to the AHL never to return for the playoffs as the AHL season goes on for a month after the CHL playoffs start. So it just doesn't make sense. I wish Scott well against every team in the league except us.
- Coach was also asked about the status of Brian McMillin and explained McMillin had not been officially signed but would expect that to happen after the Christmas break. Brian will most likely join the team in St. Charles on December 27. When he actually gets in the line up will depend on several factors including how the team is playing, the health of the team and what kind of shape Brian is in given the fact that he has not played in a game in over three weeks.
- I will most likely give Mark Guggenberger the start tomorrow (Saturday). I will look at the tape of the game before making a final decision but that is the way I am leaning at this point.
- I am not sure when Jarret Lukin might be back in the line up. Lukin doesn't have any structural damage that is keeping him out but is dealing with some muscle (soft tissue) issues. He told me this morning he is feeling better.
- The six on three power play at the end of the game was scary to watch. I kept thinking all of our hard work in this game and in comes down to this at the end. To make matters worse the two guys that kill five on three penalties for us were not available with Lukin not playing and Asuchak in the penalty box. The guys got the job done.
- Kale Kerbashian was named the #1 star of the game as he scored two goals but his contribution was much more than the goals. He set up teammates for opportunities several times, was finishing his checks, killing penalties and probably made the save of the game stopping one of the shots on the six on three penalty kill.
- Brampton had the games first two shots on goal and the last four shots during the power play at the end of the game. But in the other 57 minutes the Americans out shot Brampton by an impressive 37-14. The first period shots on goal were 15-6 in favor of Allen.
- Special teams, as is so often the case, was the difference last night as Allen got two power play goals off the best penalty kill unit in the league. The penalty kill unit for the Americans continued its great play as they allowed no goals on Brampton's five opportunities highlighted by the outstanding six on three kill at the end of the game. With the special teams success last night Allen is now close to catching the Beast as the top rated penalty kill unit in the league. Brampton is #1 at 86.52% while Allen is #2 at 86.23%.
- The Americans gained no ground in the standings as the three teams ahead of them (Rapid City, Missouri, & Tulsa) all won last night. Rapid City won their game in Denver, in a shoot out and tied the CHL record for most consecutive road wins at 10. You don't want to get in a shoot out with the Rush as they have won all three they have been in this year and have dominated them all. They have only had to take 10 shots to win the three shoot outs. They have scored on seven of the ten shots.
- The largest crowd anywhere in the CHL this season (7846) showed up last night to watch the Tulsa Oiler beat Quad City 5-2 in Tulsa. Rookie Adam Pleskach had a true hat trick and now has 19 goals on the year.
- The rookie of the year race in the CHL is starting to look like a competition between Pleskach who has 30 points (19 goals 11 assists) and Alex Lavoie who has 35 points (14 goal 21 assists).
- On the other end of the attendance spectrum from the 7846 fans in Tulsa is the Denver Cutthroats who played at home, on a weekend, against the best team in the league and could only draw a crowd of 1351.
- I mentioned yesterday how important a sweep this weekend is to this team. If they lose tonight they are continuing in that month long funk of win one game, lose one game. If they win tonight it will be the third quality win in a row, a feat the Americans have not accomplished since October. As Ben Crenshaw said at the 1999 Ryder Cup, "I have a good feeling about this." Another effort by the Americans like Friday night will be a big statement to the the Beast, the league, and more importantly to themselves.
DID YOU KNOW: There are seven former players from the the Fort Worth Brahmas on the rosters of Allen and Brampton. Allen has John Snowden, Phil Fox, Ross Rouleau, and Mark Guggenberger while Brampton has Calin Wild, Kristofer Westblom and Erik Spady. All except Guggenberger played for the Brahmas last year.